Best Carry-On Size, Travel With Only a Carry-On

Pascale Bernasse | Saturday, Aug 7th 2021

Transcript: Carry On Size and How to Travel Well with a Carry-On

Have you ever wondered, how can you travel with only a carry-on regardless of the destination or the length of the trip?  Well in this video we’re going to go over the top tips and strategies to help you go from feeling overwhelmed with luggage to feeling light and content with a carry-on. 

Hi, I’m Pascale Bernasse with French Wine Explorers and we help wine lovers become connoisseurs with our online classes and immersive wine tours. 

Before we go over the strategies for packing with only a carry-on, I wanted to tell you my story. When I graduated from high school, I was gifted a beautiful piece of luggage; the kind you normally don’t see in an airport. And I was moving to France and able to fit everything that I loved in that piece of luggage. I arrived in France, but unfortunately, my luggage did not. It took two weeks for me to find it and during those two weeks I had to not only live without my loved possessions, but I had to start new and buy new clothes. So I vowed from that moment on never to travel with a piece of checked-in luggage again, and I haven’t done so for over thirty years.

 So today we’re going to go over the tips and strategies for traveling with only a carry-on. 

The first thing you want to do is find a piece of luggage that’s best suited for your trip.

  • Now I travel with two different pieces of luggage depending on what type of trip I’m taking. 
    • What I mean by this is I have a 21-inch carry-on that I use for international travel when I know I’m only traveling from this country to an international country, and then I have a smaller 18 inch that I know will fit if I’m taking any regional flights. So let’s go over the features and benefits, advantages and disadvantages of each of these pieces of luggage. 
    • First, let’s go with the 21 inch which is the most popular carry-on luggage. The one I like to use is this one, it’s from AWAY. It’s very popular and here’s what I love about it: It is very well defined inside with compartments which I absolutely love,  and these wheels make it so easy to go over any type of terrain including the grates you find sometimes in the city streets. That’s what I love about it. What I don’t love about it is that it’s heavy; so if I’m by myself and I need to put this in the overhead bin, I’m going to have a hard time. 
    • Now, this is my absolute best friend when it comes to travel. I have been using this piece of luggage for over twenty years and it kind of shows but here’s what I love about it. First of all, it’s soft-sided so what that means is it has a little bit of room for expansion, but more importantly, it’s light so I can put it in the overhead bin all by myself. Secondly, we’ve got inline wheels meaning the wheels are actually in the carry-on itself and there are only two; and what I love about that is you can’t really get them caught on anything because they’re inline wheels and secondly, they will fit the dimensions for regional jets within international borders. So that’s really important. 

Okay, so now let’s go over the most interesting part of packing with a carry-on which is what clothes do I bring. 

  • Now I could give you a list of twenty essential items to bring as a capsule wardrobe but guess what, what I bring might now work for you because I’m a different size, I have different coloring, I have different styles and tastes; so rather than giving you that list, this is how I would recommend that you find your own travel capsule wardrobe. 
    • First of all, there’s probably a retailer that resonates with you and that retailer probably has shopping services. So what I would do, is I would actually get a 
    • personal shopper from your favorite retailer and let them know you’re looking for a travel capsule wardrobe of fifteen essential pieces that can work for the style of travel that you’re going to be taking.
    • For example, I did this with my favorite retailer that has the size that works best for me. I asked that retailer shopping service for clothes for business, casual settings, lounging, and athletic wear. And what they did is they sent me several different options in those categories, I kept what I wanted, I sent back what I didn’t want and now I have a capsule wardrobe that are my workhorse outfits everytime I travel. 

Okay, now onto shoes. I love shoes, don’t you?

  • Now it would be silly for us to have this essential travel wardrobe and then bring fifteen pairs of shoes with us. So we need to limit ourselves. 
    • So I recommend only bringing three pairs of shoes and actually it’s only two because one of them you’re going to be wearing on your trip. You want to wear your bulkiest shoes the day of travel; so that way it eliminates taking up too much space. 
    • Then you want to bring a pair of dressy shoes and a pair of comfortable shoes for touring. And that’s it. So we have the right mindset, the right luggage, a travel capsule wardrobe, and shoes. 
    • Now you’re thinking, what else do I need? 


  • I would definitely recommend accessories in the form of jewelry and scarves. 
    • So, let’s break that down. As far as jewelry is concerned, my go-to rule is to bring only what you’re prepared to lose. 
    • I have lost too much fine jewelry to allow myself to bring cherished pieces, only to find that I’m losing them. So now I get replicas of my favorite pieces or I get jewelry that I know if I lose it’s going to be okay and my good pieces are back home. 
    • Next is scarves. Now scarves can really play a major role in dressing up an outfit and helping you stay warm while you’re traveling. Let me explain. 
      • I love the square scarves that are made out of silk or satin to really dress up an outfit, to use as a belt, and even as a headscarf, and having a lot of these won’t take up too much space and really can change an outfit from day to night. 
      • Next, I always bring and I always carry with me a pashmina. Pashminas are the ones that are made with wool or wool blends and they tend to be a little bit longer and slightly wider. And they can be actually used as a blanket when you’re on the plane and I also like to bring it with me when I’m wine touring because a lot of times we’re tasting in the wine cellars and they’re at a stable fifty-four degrees and after a few minutes it feels a little bit chilly so I always bring one of those with me as well. 

Okay, so we have the right luggage, the right mindset, we have the right clothing, jewelry, accessories, and shoes, what’s missing? Yes, makeup. 

  • And this has probably been the most difficult thing for me to find to travel with a carry-on because TSA requirements allow you to only pack liquids in that small, quart-size bag. 
    • So I have found this. This is a compact palette that works really well for me and it can be offered to you in the colors that work best for you. Here’s what I love about it. I’ve got everything in one palette. I’ve got foundation, concealer, and lips on the top. And then on the bottom, I have eyeshadow and more lips. I also have even a perfume tin. 
    • These tins are interchangeable and it’s really been a game-changer for me and I’ll go ahead and put in the show notes where you can get this. 
    • So, that plus these dual-ended brushes and a tube of mascara and I’m good to go; and that is really all I bring. 

Okay, so we’ve gone over the tips and strategies to travel with only a carry-on, and let’s recap. 

  • First, you want to have the mindset that less is more, quality over quantity, and try using this technique every day with your wardrobe choices. 
  • Second, the type, style, and length of luggage are really important depending on where you’re going. I’ve offered two different options. 
  • Third, clothes will make or break this deal, so hire a professional to help you find a travel capsule wardrobe. 
  • Fourth, don’t forget accessories such as jewelry and scarves. 
  • And finally, find makeup that works for you that is compact and adaptable to your situation. 

And that’s it! Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to comment below if you have any questions or if there’s anything you’d like for us to go over in our next video.

In the meantime, I say cheers and travel well.